6 February [1797]

George Dyer, [Llansaintfraid, Wales], to Mary Hays, at Mr Palmer’s, Little John Street, Grays Inn Lane, [6 February 1797].1


My dear friend

       I was under a promise, if I staid at Llansantfride2 longer than a fortnight to write to you. That promise I now do myself the pleasure of fulfilling.

    When I tell you, that the country about Llansantfride about Llansantfride is the most delightful that can be well conceived, that the family I am with are very amiable & very friendly, that J. Green3 is a man of sense & good humour, a friend to liberty and human happiness, that his partner as well in her manners & principles, as in her person is one of the most agreeable of women, that the young people are not trained up like ourboarding school misses, whom you so properly characterize in Emma Courtney, that from their infancy they have been taught nothing that vitiates the heart, or sophisticates the judgement, in short that they have, from their excellent mother, been taught nothing but the simplicity and generosity of republican manners, you will conclude, that I am passing my time not disagreeably at Llansantfride.

       I should be glad to be informed, whether you have read the novel that you promised me to peruse, and what is yr opinion of its merit, as well with respect to style <-> ^as^ sentiment. Having engaged to leave town a few days after I recd it from the author, I had not time to read a single page. I knew A. Plumptre ^only^ by letter, but am informed she is an excellent moral character, a practical philosopher.4 Emma Courtney I am persuaded she will admire, as I do exceedg, and am anxious to know what appearance she makes in the critical and other Reviews.5

       By the bye I think you and A. Cristall might be able jointly to fabricate an excellent poetical novel, I mean a novel with occasional poetical effusions introduced. A. C. has under a very fine talent for poetry: one or two of her songs are, I think, as beautiful as any I know.6 She is howe indeed a little incorrect and luxuriant, “her poetical vine wants trimming.” Judging from the success of what I have called poetical novels, I should conclude, that a story in yr prose composition & with A. C.’s poetical embellishments, would be a good, or as the Indians express it, a good, good one, good in its principles, and good in its consequences, I mean productive. A. Christall’s poetry in future, if she writes, will, I doubt not, display more judgement and correctness. But these can only be acquired by practice.

      I beg my respects to any of yr friends, who inquire after me, whether they are disciples of Helvetius, or like your good mother, continue true and faithful to Jesus Christ. When I come to town I must publish Poet’s Fate;7 I say must, for otherwise I, who am but a soft poet shall meet with hard lot. Probably you may know four or five friends, who may choose to have a copy; and if so, I will thank you to let me know ^it will only cost 2:6^: I can afford to run no hazard with this poem, & as I do not sell it to a bookseller, but print on my own account I am desirous, that such of my friends as can promote its sale will: for you know I have the character of a philanthropist, (whether justly or not I will not say) but the mere character is very expensive, and attended with inconveniencies, and endless teasing perplexities: & sometimes I think I shall fly from it & London, to groves & solitude  in the country.

       Pray take care of yr health. Do not be a martyr to philosophy, which you will be, if you do not take more exercise, and be a little more foolish, and look at the world with all its awkward things, its clumsy, lumpish forms, its fools, its coxcombs, and its scoundrels with more endurance. I shall be happy to hear from you. I shall be in London in a fortnight, but leave Llansantfride in a week: & if therefore you indulge me with a line, which will give me great favour pleasure, please write by return of post (you are a ready writer) enclose it under cover to James Green’s M.P. (add the foolish word Esq: if you think proper, ^though I never do^) Llansantfride, near Monmouth.

                                    I remain, dr Madam,

                                                Yrs sincerely George Dyer

P.S. If you do not write immediately, please to address your Letter to me at Bristol, to be left till called for under cover to J. Green M. P. Member for Arundel. Your letter will chear a pilgrim on his way.

Address: Monmouth Feby Sixth 1797 | Mary Hayes. | at Mr Palmers8 | Little St John St | Grays Inn Lane | London | Free | Jas Greene.

1 MS Misc. 2170, Pforzheimer Collection, NYPL; Brooks, Correspondence 288-90; Wedd, Love Letters 238-39.

2 Llansaintfraid (there are several Welsh villages with this name or a variant spelling of it) is a small village in Monmouthshire, in southeast Wales. 

3 James Greene (1759-1814) was originally from Lancashire; he served as MP for Arundel from 1796-1801, advocating Whig policies and political reform, which would have endeared him to Dyer. He resided as Llansaintfriad. 

4 Anne Plumptre (1760-1818) was a writer and, at times, a translator, originally from Norwich, the same city as that of her friend, Amelia Alderson Opie.  The novel Dyer has mentioned here is her first novel, Antoinette (1796), which appeared anonymously the same year as Hays's Emma Courtney. For more on Anne Plumptre and her sister, Annabella (1769-1838), see Anne Plumptre to Hays, 28 March [1798], and their entry in the Biographical Index.

5 Reviews of Emma Courtney appeared in the Critical Review (January 1797, pp. 109-11); the Monthly Review (April 1797, pp. 443-49); and the Analytical Review that same year (pp. 174-79). 

6 Anne Batten Cristall (1769-1848) (see Biographical Index).

7 George Dyer, The Poet's Fate (London: J. J. and G. Robinson, J. Johnson, and J. Debrett, 1797). 

8 Reference here is to Edward Palmer (c. 1771-1831), who married Marianna Hays (1773-97) in June 1796 and moved into a house in John Street, not far from Hays's residence in Kirby Street. Most likely she became pregnant in late fall 1796 and by December Mary Hays had moved into their home, most likely to assist Marianna in household duties during a difficult pregnancy. Marianna died in early December 1797, most likely from complications of the pregnancy, and not long thereafter Mary Hays returned to Miss Cole's lodgings in Kirby Street. Edward Palmer was the brother of Nathaniel Palmer (1774-1840), who married Mary Hays's niece, Joanna Dunkin, in 1798, and also brother of Samuel Palmer (1775-1848), sometime bookseller, teacher, and lay Baptist minister in Southwark and a few places outside London and father of the Romantic painter and friend of Blake and Crabb Robinson, Samuel Palmer (1805-81). The younger Palmer's father-in-law was the artist John Linnell (1792-1882), who was also a Baptist for many years and close friend of Blake. For more on Marianna Hays and the Palmers, see her entry in the Biographical Index.